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NMSU, UTEP prepare for ‘Battle of I-10’ in hoops

Michael Reese/UTEP Athletics
UTEP hosting NMSU in a Battle of I-10 game.

EL PASO – UTEP will host New Mexico State in the 218th meeting in the "Battle of I-10" at the Don Haskins Center on Tuesday. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

The Aggies lead the all-time series 114-103, while the Miners have lost the last nine contests. UTEP’s last win came on Nov. 22, 2014, a 77-76 triumph in the Don Haskins Center. The Aggies defeated UTEP, 96-69, in Las Cruces in the first contest last season, while slipping by the Miners, 62-58, in the Haskins Center Nov. 28, 2018. Odigie averaged 12.5 points per game and 4.5 rebounds in the two contests.

“New Mexico State has had a great run over the last decade and they’re a well-coached team,” second-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “They’re a team that competes at a very high level. Anytime you play a Chris Jans’s team, you’re going to play a hard-nosed defensive team. They’re also a very physical rebounding team that hits the glass hard, and they’re great in transition.”

The Miners (1-0) and Aggies (1-0) are both coming off victories last week. UTEP downed New Mexico Highlands, 93-70, while NMSU took care of Western New Mexico, 92-46.

Efe Odigie led the Miners with 20 points and added six rebounds in 22 minutes of action, while Daryl Edwards (17 points), Bryson Williams (17 points), Souley Boum (15 points) and Eric Vila (11 points) each hit double figures during their UTEP debuts.

Vila recorded a double-double to start his UTEP career, pulling down 11 rebounds. Vila also came up four assists short of a triple-double – something done only once in program history. Williams tallied seven rebounds and shot 5-of-7 from the field, while making his lone three-point attempt. He made one during his previous two seasons at Fresno State. Edwards connected on 3-of-4 from downtown as the Miners went 6-for-14 from beyond the arc.

The Miners recorded 15 assists, while making 78.1 percent (25-32) of their free throws. The 25 made free throws matched last season’s high against on Dec. 21 against Norfolk State and against UTPB in the season opener. The 93 points also surpassed last season’s high of 90 in Terry’s UTEP coaching debut.

Overall, UTEP connected on 56.4 percent (31-55) from field, which also surpassed last season’s high of 52.9 percent. The Miners hit the boards hard, outrebounding NMHU, 42-28.

Terry went nine-deep, as the bench scored 36 points on the night. Freshman Deon Stroud scored four points and Anthony Tarke added a pair of made free throws and three rebounds. Tydus Verhoeven also played nine minutes off the bench.

NMSU opened its 2019-20 season with a dominating victory against Western New Mexico Nov. 5. The Aggies jumped out to a 16-0 lead in the first 5:30 of action and took a 52-16 lead into the locker room at the half. Redshirt sophomore guard Jabari Rice led NM State with 21 points on 6-of-9 shooting off the bench.

In fact, the Aggies bench scored 48 points as redshirt freshman William McNair chipped in with 11 points. Senior Trevelin Queen, who was named the 2019 Western Athletic Conference Tournament MVP, hit 5-of-8 shots, scoring 14 points, while junior Shawn Williams and senior Ivan Aurrecoechea each tallied 10 points.

Last season, third-year NMSU Head Coach Chris Jans directed the Aggies to a program record 30 wins, while going 15-1 in the WAC. Jans was named the WAC Coach of the Year, followed by the 2019 Don Haskins Coach of the Year.

NMSU returns four starters from a year ago in senior guard Terrell Brown (11.3 ppg), redshirt senior guard AJ Harris (9.4 ppg, 3.3 apg), senior guard Clayton Henry (5.4 ppg) and redshirt junior forward CJ Bobbitt (4.6 ppg). Former Miners Evan Gilyard recently transferred to NM SU, but will sit out the season per NCAA transfer rules.

(Editor's note: Watch the full news conference from NMSU head coach Chris Jans in the video player above.)




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